A flybridge with a lid on it? Azimut’s 85 offers all the advantages of a hardtop in a spacious package.
It’s the hardtop you notice first. Like a flying tennis court, it appears to have no business floating 20-odd feet above the water.
Then there’s the sheer mass of the superstructure: the windscreen seems particularly far forward, and the upward arch of the side windows does nothing to disguise the boat’s height.
And the side windows themselves are huge – not just the ones on the main deck, but those dark voids cut into the topsides as well.
Overall, first impressions of the Amizut 85 at the quayside are that it’s going to take a lot more than a pair of little Cadillac fins at the tail end of the upper deck to make this beauty look, well, beautiful.
But look at it another way – from the inside out.
A big hardtop means lots of shade. Big windows, lots of light.
Height might not be good outside, but it’s certainly good when you’re inside.
And the windscreen is all the way over there for a reason.
If this looks a big boat from the outside, it seems massive once you’re on board.
There is no one better than Carlo Galeazzi at interiors. After hundreds of boats he can still surprise.
The surprise on board the Azimut 85 is by now well known and already – in a way that Azimut usually find more irritating than flattering- imitated by their rivals: it’s the use of diagonals on the main deck.
Most designers look at what is essentially a long rectangle and divide it into smaller squares and rectangles – which is almost always the right thing to do.
Some might round off the corners to make it seem less like a caravan, and others will add swooping curves to create some drama.
For the same reason that you won’t find many in your house, diagonals seldom get a look in, because they are not usually the most efficient way to use the available space.
But with the considerable beam of the Azimut 85 at his disposal -which allows for a big square seating area aft, as well as a large dinette opposite the helm, with great views – the lateral-thinking Galeazzi realised that he could use diagonals not only to extend its sizeable galley well beyond the centreline, but also to allow it to face both forward and aft – all without blocking sightlines or making it look like an enormous box in the centre of the room.
It’s seriously versatile – with sliding counter partitions to the dining and wheelhouse areas, and access doors to both saloon and side deck, the galley can be screened off, but never has to be cut off.
Down the forward companionway, the VIP cabin in the bows and the pair of twin-berth guest cabins-all ensuite – lead off from an unusually spacious lobby area.
The master cabin is amidships, with its own companionway leading clown from the forward corner of the saloon, and it’s huge.
It occupies half the available space below decks.
There is a heads compartment and shower on the port side with a bathroom to starboard, a central double berth, two wardrobes, a sofa and a sideboard.
Somehow it also has plenty of floor space – you can walk around, like you do at home, without changing course too often or bumping into things.
Your guests won’t be complaining, but it would be diplomatic not to show them round your quarters. Not until their last morning aboard, anyway.
On the upper deck, even with the tender stowed aft (there is no garage – the two crew cabins occupy the stern) you could hold serious parties.
There are two vast sunbathing areas, fore and aft, a three-seater bench at the helm and an enormous alfresco dining area, which will seat eight or more.
The hardtop does ,an excellent job of shading the entire central area but, if you do actually want to enjoy the sunshine, it has an opening fabric sunroof.
On a calm but cool day, with snow visible on the distant Apuane Alps behind Viareggio, the Azimut 85 managed just a whisker less than 30 knots with a heavy load of fuel and water.
As its bulk might suggest, it’s a fairly ponderous performer, responding thoughtfully to the helm, but it’s always co-operative.
The only waves we could find were the ones we brought with us, but the hull’s forefoot sections proved deep enough to iron them out pretty comfortably.
The turning circle is quite respectable, and the trim tabs seem ideally matched to the hull – big enough to correct heel without having too much effect on the steering.
In spie of its hefty displacement, the Azimut 85 showed itself capable of lively acceleration.
The 1,652hp Cat C32s offer plenty of power (but not as much as the now-standard C32As, with an extra 175hp apiece).
They are also bulging with torque, which peaks at 1,500rpm, just as the boat is cruising through 14 knots.
After that, 20 knots comes up about as quickly as you can say it, and although it did feel slightly silly to be sitting on an 80-tonne yacht timing acceleration with a stopwatch as though you might be planning to ski behind it, this docs confirm that you’ve got the maximum grunt where you want it – just on the plane, at the speed you might want to throttle back to if the weather was a bit rough.
In harbour, too, the Azimut 85 acquitted itself well. It has both bow and stern thrusters, which will be useful on breezy days – think of all that superstructure windage, and that tennis-court-sized hardtop.
Our boat was also fitted with the excellent Sea Energy system, which brings engine controls and thrusters under the influence of one little joystick.
Move it forward, back, or to the side and the boat follows, and twist the top like a miniature steering wheel to push the bow over.
It takes a little getting used to, and if it all gets too confusing – invariably as you’re on finals with million-dollar yachts each side and a ghoulish audience in a quayside cafe watching your every move – you can press the button helpfully marked ‘Only Bow Thruster’ to restore conventional control with the throttle levers.
Whereupon you can trip ashore across the hydraulic passerelle, join the ghouls at that cafe and wait for the next victim.
First published in the February 2007 issue of MBY.
Price from: €4.35 million ex tax (approx £3.43 million inc UK VAT) with Caterpillar C32As
Length overall: 88ft 0in (26.83ml)
Beam: 21ft 0in (6.40ml)
Displacement loaded: 80 tonnes
Displacement light: 71 tonnes
Draught (max): 5ft l0in (1.78m)
Fuel capacity: 1,980 imp gal (9,000 litres)
Water capacity: 330 imp gal (1,500 litres)
Slow cruising: 18.9 knots, 380 miles@ l ,750rpm
Fast cruising: 24.2 knots, 364 miles@ 2,000rpm
Flat out: 29.9 knots, 301 miles@ 2,320rpm
Designers: Stefano Righini (exterior), Carlo Galeazzi (interior), Azimut